Mobile Optimized Websites: Here’s Why You Need One
- August 30, 2013 3:00 pm
- Web Hosting
When it comes to our use of mobile devices, there’s been something of an explosion in the industry:
- If figures from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project are true, at least 34% of Americans now own a tablet computer. That figure is up from just 3% in 2010.
- The Pew Research Center also says 61% of American cell phone owners class their device as a smartphone. When you factor in the number of cell phones in use across the US, that gives us a smartphone adoption figure of 56% for the American population. Also, the US isn’t the only place where mobile is big. It’s growing all over the world!
- And Adobe’s Mobile Consumer Survey indicates that six in seven mobile shoppers will make a purchase on their phone this year.
So mobile is growing fast, and people are spending more on their phones and tablets too. Connections are getting faster and wifi is becoming a prerequisite for mobile users. There’s reams and reams of data to support the theory that mobile’s on the way up, and to be in with a chance of competing with big brands, your site needs to be mobile optimized.
So how do you go about it?
Mobile Optimization Techniques
There’s more than one way to serve up a mobile site. Businesses use a variety of solutions, depending on the resources available and the practical aspects of converting their content to a mobile format.
- Responsive design is a popular solution since it allows you to serve up a familiar-looking layout on practically any screen size. This is the method Google prefers.
- A dedicated mobile site is another option. There’s no problem with duplicate content, according to Matt Cutts at Google, but the difficulty comes in maintaining two separate sites - unless you go with a service like goMobi. (We’ll go over the benefits of goMobi next week!)
- You may prefer to invest in a suite of mobile apps, but these don’t offer you any SEO advantages – they’re just nice to have if you can afford them.
In this article, we’re mainly looking at responsive or mobile-only sites.
Optimizing for Mobile Usability
Optimizing a site for mobile isn’t simply a case of creating a different layout. The way we navigate on mobile devices is very different, since we’re essentially using a far smaller screen area with a much clumsier input peripheral (the human finger).
That means your optimized site will look quite different.
When creating an optimized layout for mobile, you should aim to give your smartphone and tablet users a comparable experience to desktop users. In other words, you should avoid reducing the amount of useful information on the page. And you should also create the site with the touchscreen in mind.
Also, consider these usability risks:
- On mobile, almost all of your users will tap with a finger; they won’t click with a mouse, or tap with a stylus pen, in most cases. Tapping is clumsier and less precise, and there’s more chance users will hit the wrong icon and get frustrated. Consider the spacing in your navigation menus so that items on screen can be tapped without the need to zoom in and out.
- Hover menus cause problems on mobile devices. Sometimes they force the users to tap one more time than they’d expect to, and that can lead them to believe the website isn’t loading correctly. Try to eliminate hover effects if possible, or provide alternative navigation, such as a drop-down list.
- Orientation varies. Don’t forget to check your mobile layout in portrait and landscape mode.
- If you need more space, cut out the clutter – not the copy. You don’t want to force your visitor to fire up their laptop to read the full blurb about a product: it should all be there on the mobile site. That huge fancy company logo can probably be sacrificed, though.
Optimizing for Conversions
When a user lands on your site, you want to encourage them to spend. Optimizing for conversions is the key factor in making a mobile site work.
Consider making the following changes:
- Ensure a mobile search takes the user to the mobile version of the product page they’re looking for. It should never take the user to your home page and force them to search again.
- Add your telephone number to the top navigation bar. Often, mobile users will want to call you to make a purchase rather than tap out a long email via your contact form.
- Remove any Flash components that could get in the way of a purchase.
- Ensure all product images are small enough to be unobtrusive.
Is Optimization Worth It?
Mobile optimization isn’t a nice thing to have; it’s fast becoming a prerequisite. But in developing mobile optimized content, you should ensure it gives your visitor the same experience as your desktop site.
If you can achieve this balance, your customers will enjoy a seamless experience and will be in a better position to spend.